Chew ’em up and spit ’em out! The Flaw

Ashby Jones writes in the July 10th edition of the Wall Street Journal an article entitled, “Survey Says: How Three Law Firms Aim to Boost Associate Satisfaction.”

His article on law firms’ associates’ satisfaction was interesting. However, until the business model of the large law firms changes, there will be no change in the satisfaction of associates with their law firms. It really is irrelevant whether one large firm scores a little better than another. Very few associates from any of the large law firms is satisfied.

The current business model “eats ‘em up and spits ‘em out.”  Currently, the “culling process” gets cheap labor (yes, even despite what seem to be high salaries for the young talent) for 5, 6 or 7 years. Then, if they don’t make partner, they’re asked to leave to make way for the next group of young “unwashed” law school graduates. This is not the way Corporate America chooses to do business … and until law firms understand that there can be a better model of running a law firm, associates’ satisfaction with their workplace will remain unfulfilled.

Ironically, this model may not make sense for the equity stakeholders of the law firm either. With each dismissal of an associate costing the law firm anywhere from $200,000 to $400,000 in lost profits (from the "bottom line"), hiring right the first time and keeping young lawyers will increase the profits of the law firm, and its equity partners!


Categorized in: